Thanksgiving Day grows in importance for shoppers

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As retailers roll out deals earlier and earlier to grab a greater chunk of holiday shoppers’ dollars, Thanksgiving Day has grown in importance, with sales kicking off before the dinner dishes have been cleared away.

Walmart and Kmart have opened stores on the holiday for decades, but in recent years they’ve been joined by Sears, Toys R Us and other retailers who are vying for the up to $1.05 trillion in sales that consultancy Deloitte is projecting for this holiday season.

About 58% of shoppers say they plan to shop this Thanksgiving, up from 40% who intended to do so last year, according to consultancy PwC. Meanwhile, a separate survey by Deloitte found that roughly 73% of respondents would be shopping on the holiday.

More than 300 people waited outside Younkers department store 30 miles southeast of Green Bay, Wis., for a chance to win a $500 gift card before the store opened at 11 a.m. CT.

Andrea and Alexa Moreno shopped on Thanksgiving Day for the first time, and they planned to take advantage of Younkers’ steep discounts for a good cause.

The girls were on a mission to buy jackets and donate them to homeless shelters and thrift stores in northeastern Wisconsin.

“Winter’s coming, so we thought maybe we could buy jackets for people who need them,” Andrea Moreno said.

Walmart geared up for the Black Friday shopping onslaught. 

“I really like what I am seeing,” said Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart’s U.S. operation, Thursday after touring stores. 

Workers toiled to convert displays from emphasizing food sales over the past week — ingredients for those turkey dinners — to gift items in order to transform Walmart into a Black Friday powerhouses.

All signs pointed to a vibrant Thanksgiving shopping weekend. 

“The general mood of the economy is quite solid. The weather is being extremely helpful” with generally warmer-than-usual weather across much of the country, Foran said.

The tough part is making sure the stores have just the right mix of specials and merchandise to win customers. He said Walmart is ready with hot toys like the Hatchimals lineup that was popular last year and a nice assortment of stuffed animals and other plushes. Plus, he said this year Walmart is better prepared when it comes to trendy apparel.  Kids’ pajama sets featuring licensed characters, like Pokemon, for instance, should be winners.

With millions of items available online, shoppers who want to enjoy dessert and avoid the cold and the crowds will be able to take advantage of holiday discounts without ever leaving the house.

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